Topic: Stranded by Owen Bullock

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It seems to me that we are taking risks with wildlife all the time; this is what troubles me. The safety procedures on ships is obviously inadequate, with little thought given to what would happen if a vessel grounded. The fact that the ship's own oil pumps cannot be reversed means that the recovery of oil is a slow and difficult process, even where a tank has not been breached. My poem takes a broad view of the situation, because I think we need to see the death of any sea bird as a tragedy

we were driving along
when I felt a slap of it
through the window

the car slowed
and it rose around the tyres
I wound the windows up

but that didn't help for long
it seeped through the chassis
around the foot pedals, bottoms of doors

I got out (was that
the worst thing I could have done?)
waded across the street to a park

tried to rub the mess off me
got to higher ground, already
there were volunteers cleaning up

they diluted some of it
but it was choking my pores
swallowing my mouth

I screamed but it came out a gurgle
staggered, closed my eyes, became limp
suffocated in oil

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